Parenting Sucks: Over Scheduling Our Children

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Dear Joanne,

Now that school’s back in full swing, it’s a madhouse at our house. Between school, after school lessons, sports, and dealing with homework, we can’t find time to even sit down together as a family for dinner. Any suggestions on how to manage my time better?


Dear Lynn,

 Yes I do have a suggestion, Lynn, but it has nothing to do with managing your time. It has to do with simplifying your life.  Since there are only so many hours in a given day, you have to weed out some of the extra things that overwhelm it. Since school and homework are the only given (as much as your kid may protest), ipso-facto transitive property, you have to get rid of some or all of the after school stuff.

I’m not saying to quit after school activities altogether, but I do suggest that you ease into them. If, after a month of school, your kid can handle the homework load, put one back. If that works out, add another. But if, and only if, you and your child’s stress level can handle it. Remember, there are always weekends for fun activities and your child can get exercise by playing at the park or going on a bike ride like kids used to do back in the old days before the invention of gourmet cooking for tweens and junior gymnasiums. 

These days, our lives, and the lives of our children, are so overscheduled, we don’t have time to smell the roses (or eat a homemade dinner together around the dinner table). Believe me, your child can live without karate and piano lessons. And he can live without being carting around town between his classes, and his sibling’s classes, all afternoon. In fact, your whole family can benefit from an easier, more manageable life, without the constant schlepping and rushing around town.

Also, during these difficult economic times, cutting out classes can save a heck of a lot of money. I know we as parents never want to deny our children anything, but it’s important to put things in perspective. Going into debt, or not contributing to our retirement accounts or our children’s collage fund is far more damaging than denying them cotillion class and modern dance.

So, before you sign up your child for yet another month of baseball, drums, acting and Mandarin Chinese classes, stop and think. If going to those places (or paying for them) isn’t in the best interest of the family, wait a bit.  Maybe next month or next semester things will be easier. Like TIVO and Botox, over scheduling our children’s lives is a product of our times, so let’s simplify our lives, live with less stress, and enjoy life, and those home made dinners, more!

Joanne Kimes is the author of the bestselling “Sucks” series as well as “The Stay-at-Home Martyr.” Visit her at

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • Jackie Houchin

    Good advice, Joanne…some that I will take for my self, and all my kids have flown the coup. Simplifying and saving money. How can you get better than that?

  • LIsa

    I meant to respond to this sooner, but alas…anyway, one thing I find though is that if you eliminate these activities for your child, but everyone else is still doing camp or sports or whatever and you try and get your kid to find a friend to do an old-fashioned day at the park shooting hoops or just a bike ride, no one is available. It’s very hard here in our little neck of the woods to do things the way “we” did back in the day I find. So you end up putting them in stuff so they can have friends. Have you had this experience?

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